Never give up

Rappahannock News - - COMMENT • NEWS - Clark Hol­low Ram­blings RICHARD BRADY morelchaser@gmail.com; 675-3754

Iwant to tell you a story about an ap­ple tree. It has been 18 to 20 years since I bought this lit­tle sapling from a Kmart store that was lo­cated in Fairfax. My in­ten­tion was to plant it at the cabin, with the dual hope that maybe one day I would get a few ap­ples from it, and it might at­tract a deer or two. I am fond of both ap­ples and veni­son.

I planted it in a nicely drained area that had as much sunshine as you could find in the moun­tains. I watched it grow for sev­eral years and soon it had an ap­ple or two and I be­gan to be more hope­ful for the lit­tle tree. I put a rather rick­ety fence around it of Amer­i­can wire and a used a cou­ple of stout saplings to hold the fence in place. I was be­gin­ning to feel pretty good about the whole deal. The next year it had a few more ap­ples, but a bear had de­cided it be­longed to him. There was very lit­tle left of the tree once he de­stroyed the fence and pulled most of the branches off to get to the ap­ples.

At about the same time in 2004, we moved into our present house in Flint Hill. Be­ing raised in a gen­er­a­tion when “waste not, want not” was the mantra, I dug up the bat­tered lit­tle tree, sav­ing as many roots as the rocky, moun­tain soil would al­low. I also pur­chased a North­ern Pie cherry tree and a peach tree from the Food Lion in Front Royal. I planted all three of them in a row, in a good, sunny spot above where I planned to put in a raised bed gar­den.

In 2012, Bob Day and I were com­ing through Penn­syl­va­nia on our way home from a fish­ing trip in Canada. On the truck ra­dio we be­gan to hear news sto­ries about the storm that had hit cer­tain parts of Vir­ginia very hard. Over a mil­lion peo­ple had no power. Bob had his cell phone with him and tried calling his home, then his daugh­ter’s home, then my home, and got no an­swer. At this time we be­came ac­quainted with a new weather term, dere­cho.

We had been driv­ing since we left Shining Tree, On­tario, and de­cided not to stop. We con­tin­ued driv­ing and even­tu­ally he was able to get my bride on the phone and she filled us in on what had hap­pened. You will, I am sure, remember the storm. In ad­di­tion to ev­ery­thing else that re­sulted from the high winds, my lit­tle ap­ple tree was ly­ing flat on the ground.

It took more than a few days to get ev­ery­thing back to nor­mal, or as close to it as pos­si­ble. I took an old me­tal fence post and drove it al­most all the way into the ground about 15 feet from the ap­ple tree. I got a heavy piece of wire and ran it through a sec­tion of old gar­den hose. I at­tached that to the tree and at­tached the other end to the top of the me­tal post. In line with the heavy wire I placed a ten­sioner that is nor­mally used with high ten­sion fence. With that and a cou­ple of

2 x 6 braces, I was able to get the bedrag­gled lit­tle tree to stand up­right again.

In the in­ter­ven­ing years, I have tried to learn how to prop­erly prune an ap­ple tree. I must ad­mit to be­ing a ter­ri­ble fail­ure at that job. But the lit­tle tree re­fused to give up, and so I started us­ing or­chard spray and fer­til­ized the lit­tle tree and talked to it and last year was able to get enough ap­ples to keep my in­ter­est up.

This year, I will har­vest over two bushels of ap­ples. With the help of my daugh­ter, who told me what kind they were, and the con­fir­ma­tion of a cou­ple of web sites, I find I have the tasti­est Gala ap­ples I could ever have hoped for. They are de­li­cious fried, leav­ing just a lit­tle of the peel­ing on them. They are great right off the tree, and make re­ally good ap­ple­sauce. What more could you want?

Not all of the ap­ples are per­fect; there is a spot here and there, a bit of cork­i­ness, and a worm in one now and then. They are a lot like me. But I couldn’t be hap­pier. This lit­tle ap­ple tree has shown me, once again, that as long as there is sunshine and a lit­tle rain now and then, we will both be al­right. Just don’t give up.

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